September 18, 2019

Saving Together

By Beth Knight-Pinneo, Alliance Benefits

Unpredictability—here on earth it’s the one thing about the future we can all agree on.

Day-to-day challenges keep most churches and ministries struggling to keep up, let alone thinking ahead to the future. For some, retirement may seem like a long way off. For others, it is just around the corner. Regardless, saving for retirement will be one of the most important things you do for yourself and your family.

When it comes to preparing for retirement, there are many things you can’t control—the future of Social Security, tax rates, and inflation, to name a few. But one thing you can control is the amount you save.

Thanks to the unique structure of the Alliance 403(b) Retirement Plan, investing doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Our consultants often remind us that having enough retirement money is not achieved by “timing the market” but rather by “time in the market.”

A key highlight when participating in a sponsored church plan is that clergy workers may be eligible to reduce their taxable income—even after retirement. The Alliance 403(b) Retirement Plan is a “Church Plan” as recognized by the IRS. This means it may be possible for clergy workers to claim a ministerial housing allowance on their withdrawals. This benefit is not available with an IRA (individual retirement account) or most other plans. Only one set up as a Church Plan can offer this tax advantage. As a clergy worker, if you qualify according to IRS rules and regulations, you can deduct qualifying housing expenses from your 403(b) withdrawals. This will reduce the amount of taxes you must pay during your retirement.

An old Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” Perhaps you are one of those who did not start 20 years ago, or not at the level you would like. Financial planners nationwide are now encouraging employees to think in terms of contributing 15% of their income to a retirement plan, including both employer and employee contributions. You can start today—or keep contributing—with whatever amount you are able to. At the same time, consider increasing your contribution 1% per year until you reach your desired percentage. Or, if you happen to eliminate a debt, you may want to consider taking that opportunity to boost your annual saving further.

Alliance Benefits considers it a joy to help those impacting lives for the Kingdom prepare for their future. It is an incredible honor to serve our churches, our pastors, our support staff, and our districts. If you have questions about your current plan or would like to start investing today (even as little as $25/month!), please contact us. We have many resources available to help and support you along the way…and consider it a privilege to serve you!


Beth joined Alliance Benefits in January 2001. In her role as Benefits Consultant, she focuses on building relationships with churches and districts, and assisting with Health Plan and 403(b) questions. She is assigned to serve the churches and districts in the Western and Southern US, and the multi-cultural districts.

Posted in: 403(b) Plan Tools